Our Picky Eater

In December, my son’s teacher informed me that he wasn’t eating lunch. She was wondering if there might perhaps be a connection between hunger and a lack of afternoon impulse control. “Could you please try packing his lunch?”

A few weeks later, with behavior back on track, another teacher mentioned his “picky” eating.

This “picky” eater ate three lamb chops two nights ago, shrimp tacos the night before. At restaurants over Spring Break, he tossed aside the Children’s Menus for beef tenderloin and broccoli, lobster quesadillas, and huge fish sandwiches.

When I pack his lunch, he eats pasta with pesto, bacon sandwiches, leftover sesame chicken, bags of celery and carrots, and his latest go-to request, mozzarella and tomato sandwiches with fresh basil and a splash of balsamic vinaigrette.

“It’s delicious!” he grins. “Can I have that tomorrow too?”

For the record, we’re being played.

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African Feasts, Spanish Fiestas, and Cheeseburgers

I typically make dinner for our family six days a week. So, you might think I relish the homework assignments where cooking is involved.

I do not.

Frankly, I’d rather write a paper, make a poster, spend hours on a diorama, or muddle through a calculus problem. And it seems that the African feasts and Spanish fiestas always happen during a week of tests, meetings, and any version of silly end-of-trimester chaos you can imagine.

I love project-based learning. I want more global awareness built into my kids’ curriculum. But I have boys who bite off more than I’d like to chew.

One year, my oldest decided to report on the history of cheeseburgers. Having never seen him more excited about school – and this was six years ago – we cooked up a cheeseburger buffet for 22 kids.

Big hit.

Ridiculous.

Tonight, my fourth grader and I are making a dish from Botswana that combines ground beef, milk-soaked bread, and strawberry jam. He found it on the Internet, but…

I don’t even know if it’s a real dish.

And after soaking the bread and chopping the onions, he cracked the egg, which exploded all over the kitchen counter and floor. “If that chicken were born, it would have ADHD!”

I know. He’s having fun.

Still, I cannot imagine a single 4th grader wanting to taste our dish.

Fortunately, my middle son, after his brother’s cheeseburger incident, decided that mom likes it when he volunteers chips and salsa. Every fiesta, always timed perfectly with the Christmas parties and end-of-year celebrations, he offers, “Mom, how about chips and salsa?”

And I can’t help but smile.

His Favorite Food

“Sesame Chicken and Indian food are tied for my favorite foods,” said the fourth grader. “But Sesame Chicken might win, because whenever I eat Indian food, I have to sit on the toilet for about 20 minutes.”

Yuck.

“But I love it anyway. I just don’t like it for lunch. Then I might miss a minute or two of recess stuck on the toilet. Which probably means I like Sesame Chicken best.”

When Boys Cook the Turkey

A few days before Thanksgiving, there was a proclamation made at our house that the guys would be in charge of the turkey. So my husband and our twelve year old prepared it for brining.

“Get the liver and stuff out,” father said to son.

“Where are they?”

“Just reach into the hole at the end.”

“Wait, that’s his butt! I am not reaching into the turkey’s butt!”

We all looked up from whatever newspaper article, book or teacup we’d been focused on. Grandpop’s eyebrow arced in amusement.

“No really? It’s in his butt?!”

“Yep,” said my grinning husband.

“That’s disgusting!” But like any respectable twelve year old, he reached inside.

“Ewwww! I can’t believe I’m doing this!” giggling as he pulled out the neck. “What’s this?”

“His neck.”

“Oh my God, is this his heart?” he asked, triumphantly holding up a purplish blob.

“Yep.”

“Ewwwww!” as he pulled out the kidneys, then liver.

“I can’t believe I just pulled them out of his butt!”

As my husband washed out the now hollow turkey, our son played with its innards – squishing them, poking at them, sliding them along the countertop. “What does its heart look like inside?”

“Cut it open and see.”

The readers and tea drinkers paused. More eyebrows raised.

“No,” said his grossed out grandmother.

Our ten year old showed up suddenly at his brother’s side, and he did it anyway. He dissected the heart. Then the kidneys, which were much harder to cut. “Not that interesting.”

Solid purple.

Then the slimy liver. Not much for a boy to celebrate there either. “But I can’t believe you made stick my hand in the turkey’s butt!”

Then the turkey was brining, and the guys left the kitchen, content with their work – red-purple turkey juices still oozing across the counter for respectable ladies to clean up.

And I wondered why, after 47 years of turkeys, it had never dawned on me to look inside their hearts.

Fortune Cookies

The funny thing about fortune cookies is that they either fit the person and the moment perfectly, or they seem purposefully ironic – if you stretch your imagination a bit.

Recently, while trying Thai food again, hoping my sons’ taste buds would be more appreciative, they mostly enjoyed splitting open their cookies.

The sixth grader read, “You will let people free.”

Hmmm…He wants to invent the time traveling machine, so maybe that will do the trick.

The fifth grader read, “Your dream must be bigger than your fear.”

He grinned, “Oh yeah, already on it!”

“Why? What’s your dream?” I asked.

“To be a linebacker in the NFL.”

Given that he has always been in the 5th-10th percentile for weight and is the first to get hurt in any outdoor play, if he is smart, his fear will grow and grow.

The first grader, who recently got sent home for shoving a friend to the ground at recess, had me read his to him, “Your kindness and generosity will be appreciated by others.”

Not this week maybe, but one day….
….if you believe in fortune cookies. Which I do this one time.